This is how women in Kashmir are changing the politics of dissent

The nature of protests has taken a new turn in Kashmir and now mothers of the slain militants are leading the protests

On March 5, when gunfight was raging in volatile Tral area of south Kashmir, massive protests erupted near the encounter site. In a bid to break the cordon and salvage the besieged militants, emotionally charged women were seen overtaking the protesting men. And among the stone-wielding women, was the mother of one of the besieged militants and Hizbul’s commander Haafiz Muhammad Aaqib alias Aaqib Molvi, a native of Tral.

Witnesses claim that neither were there any signs of fear on the mother’s face nor were there any tears in her eyes for the fear of her besieged son’s fate who was wanted by the Police and Army for months. Braving the use of force by security forces to chase away the protesters, the middle-aged woman kept leading the protests.

The pitched battles on the village streets and gun battles at the nearby site continued for a few hours till the two militants including Aaqib Molvi were finally killed. Even at the funeral, the mother was seen with dry eyes, voicing pro-Azadi slogans.

The next day while paying tributes to the slain militants, Laskar-e-Taiba hailed the protesting women.  “The mothers are coming out to fight against the Indian forces and their blessings will always help the militants in their fight. I have no words to thank the people of Tral, especially the mother of Aaqib who was fighting the Indian forces for two consecutive days,” the Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed said.

The Lashkar, in an email to Srinagar-based wire said that Freedom is the destiny of Kashmiris, which has been written by the martyrs with their blood. Mothers of martyrs are coming out to make the goal of their son’s achievable.

While the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has warned of stern action against protesters venturing around encounter sites, the situation continues to be edgy. The reports reveal that in the last few months, such protests helped militants flee in at least four incidents, where the Police, Army and the other forces had to abort the operations. The presence of women at such protests has only added to the worries of the security forces.

The Police said that the presence of women hinders normal procedure of tackling such situations. “You cannot use the same amount of force on women as you do on men. It has been a really tricky situation,” a senior police official told InUth.

The Police say that last year also women had participated in protests near encounter sites but over the past few months, the situation is turning worrisome.

With women leading protests than beating their chests as they used to in such situations, Nari shakti seems to be carrying different connotations in restive Kashmir. Now militancy is on a deadly revival in Kashmir and women like Aqib Molvi’s mother don’t cry anymore!